If there was one thing on your body that was easy come and easy go it would have to be your hair. OK, “easy go” may not be the best way to describe pesky hair that you need to shave, pluck, wax, and otherwise deal with on a regular, annoying basis.
But, unless you’re balding, it’s kind of amazing how many hairs we lose on a daily basis. It’s nothing to worry about; it’s just the hair growth cycle at work.
Every single hair on the human body (and we each have around five million of them!) operates independently. And each hair progresses through three stages, from growth to rest. This is why it takes more than a single session with our team at Olack Plastic Surgery to get rid of your hair with laser hair removal. The phase of the growth cycle the hair is in affects the effectiveness of laser hair removal. So that you understand why we can’t zap every unwanted hair at one time and be done with it, let’s have a primer on the growth cycles.
Anagen = Growth
This is the beginning phase of hair growth. In the anagen phase, the hair is visible above the skin and is still attached to the papilla in the hair follicle. The papilla is a knoblike indentation at the bottom of the follicle. We love the anagen phase of the hair cycle when we’re doing laser hair removal because this is when the hair is available to attract and absorb the laser energy, which damages the follicle and prevents the hair from growing. The anagen phase only last from 2-3 weeks; this is true of facial and body hair.
Catagen = Transition
The catagen phase is a transitional phase between growth and rest. In the catagen phase, the hair begins the process of shedding. Treating hair in the catagen phase has various degrees of success. The problem is that the hair shaft has often exited the papilla, so the energy the shaft absorbs doesn’t travel down into the papilla and the follicle. When this happens, the follicle won’t be damaged enough to prevent future hair growth. This transitional phase lasts around two days.
Telogen = Rest
This is the final stage of the cycle. The hair has been shed or is being shed. It is no longer attached to the papilla and is on its way out (if not already gone). The follicle in telogen phase has entered a resting phase. Laser treatments have no effect on follicles in the telogen phase. Unlike the anagen and catagen phases, the telogen phase is fairly unpredictable; it can last from a few days to a few years! In areas of thinning hair, more follicles are stuck in the telogen phase.
How does this affect our laser hair removal treatments?
Now you can see it takes more than just one or two laser treatments at Olack Plastic Surgery to remove as many hairs as possible in the treatment area. To be the most effective, the targeted hair needs to be in the anagen phase, which lasts just 2-3 weeks. Other follicles could be resting for months. That’s why people sometimes think a hair follicle damaged by laser energy suddenly starts growing hair again. It probably is simply another hair basically in the same area as the laser-damaged follicle, but this other hair was in telogen phase, so it couldn’t be seen.